How to Choose the Right Virtual Office For Your Business
Virtual offices provide a number of office amenities and business support services for distance workers, small businesses and remote teams – minus the actual office.
But like most flexible initiatives, you won’t find cookie cutter virtual office space. There’s plenty of variation between virtual office plans depending on what you need, not to mention huge differences between virtual office providers themselves.
Here, we explain some of the main things you need to think about before diving into the virtual office world.
- Consider Your Company’s Needs
A virtual office is a package of services including a business address, mail forwarding, live receptionist support, inclusive meeting room usage, and more. Some of these might be a good fit for your business – but some might not.
Virtual offices are designed to be flexible, cost-effective, and supportive. It’s important that you keep this in mind when choosing a virtual office plan, and pick and choose the services that your business really needs. You can always add more services as time goes on.
First, figure out the goals of your business and the tools you’re going to need to get there. For example, if you want to create a band of loyal customers for your e-commerce company, you need tools that will help you promote incredible customer service. A professional live receptionist service will help you do that.
Alternatively, if you run a client-based business that thrives on in-person meetings, presentations, and trainings, you need somewhere that can host those meetings. Look for a virtual office plan with inclusive access to fully equipped meeting rooms with on-site staff; these plans include blocks of meeting room hours per month.
- Consider Different Virtual Office Providers
Once you know which virtual office services your business needs, spend time researching different providers to make sure their offering matches your needs.
As well as checking what features a virtual office has, you also want to find out about the amenities they have available. For example, some spaces will charge more for WiFi connections, call forwarding, and mail handling.
PRO TIP: Don’t be duped by low entry costs. Some providers will entice new clients with basic entry-level plans that require expensive add-ons. Be sure to check the details and cost-up the services you really need.
- Is the Plan Adaptable?
Ideally, your virtual office should be flexible enough to adapt and develop with your business. After all, small and growing businesses are in a constant state of flux, and you need a service that can move and change with your company.
Think about what your business might need in 6 months, or a year, or even five years down the line; you might not need a virtual receptionist right now, but you might find yourself in need of one as your business grows.
- Make Sure the Customer Service Features Align With Your Business
Customer service is a huge part of any business, and making sure you have adequate systems in place for customers is vital for your company’s success.
Consider what kind of support your customers need from you and how a virtual office can help you achieve it.
For instance, many virtual offices provide virtual receptionist services to take care of your incoming calls and appointment scheduling. But is that enough? Do you need a 24/7 service, or a receptionist who is particularly knowledgeable on a certain topic? If so, a generic live receptionist service might not be enough. If in doubt, call your chosen provider and find out how their receptionists answer calls; do they simply follow a script, or can they provide more specific expertise?
- Choose the Right Location
One of the key benefits of a virtual office is the business address. Essentially, it becomes much more than a mailing address – it is your company’s local HQ. Therefore it’s marketed on your business cards, website, letterhead, and social media.
If you want to work with clients or customers in a different city to the one you live in, you’ll need to choose a virtual office in that city. Likewise, if you want to target people in a specific part of town, you might want to consider choosing a virtual office in that area.
Don’t just go for the cheapest option; on the flip side, don’t choose an upmarket base just because it looks snazzy on your business card. Does it really reflect your brand? Can clients find it easily enough? Is there parking, or local transport? Is it close to your home – or is it on the other side of town? Weigh up all the pros and cons before taking the leap.
- Stay True to Your Budget
Virtual offices are often a cheaper option than physical office spaces, which is why many new businesses seek out their services.
But you’ll still need to factor in certain costs when choosing the right virtual services for your business. It can be tempting to go for the cheapest option, but that might mean additional costs on top of the standard monthly fee.
For example, you might decide to just go with a private mailbox service because it costs $9.99 per month. However, a lot of these services charge handling fees plus postage costs for every piece of mail you want tracked, opened, and redelivered. This means if you receive a lot of mail each month, the costs might end up adding up to more than a virtual office that costs $50 per month but lets you receive and redirect mail for a flat fee plus postage.
Most virtual offices will have different pricing tiers, so be sure to check what features you get at each level.